I just got back from an absolutely amazing session of Slaying Solomon, our long-running Buffy the Vampire Slayer: RPG series. Special thanks to Tim Brannan of the Otherside Blog for planting the seeds of inspiration that grew into an intense, funny, and very character-driven episode.
Tim's idea was a creature called the Never Was, a doppelgänger of sorts who embodied the road not taken for a particular character. Given that the cast just returned from an alternate world where their lives did turn out differently, a monster that echoed that concept seemed a little much. Instead, I opted to have one of the alternate versions of the characters (who all briefly swapped places with the primary cast) remain behind when the rest returned to their native world. The result was much as Tim described for the Never Was monster, a character who (initially at least) seemed to embody everything that a certain player character idealized at the start of the series. Hi-jinx ensued.
I'll leave it to my players to write the detailed session summary, but I'll try to provide a quick overview.
Tori Clark used to be the spoiled cheerleader, the fashion snob, and the homecoming queen. If you've seen Buffy then you'd recognizing a lot of Cordelia Chase in Tori. Over the course of several seasons, however, Tori fell in with the nerds and outcasts who made up "Slayer Club" (the Slayer and her White Hat friends). Slowly and surely, the mean girl persona began to fall away. Then, rather abruptly, Tori made an enormous sacrifice and bonded with a world-shaking artifact to become the avatar of the god of War and Fire.
That was a several seasons ago.
Anyway, last session Tori and the gang visited a world where she remained the ambitious fashionista with a rich daddy who worked for an evil law firm (Wolfram and Hart). In that world, Tori was not the avatar of War. She was a successful fashion designer and celebutante. Tori felt the absence of her War powers acutely, but we didn't dwell too much on the life of the alternate Tori in that session.
We began this episode ("Terra Tori" - i.e. an alternate Earth Tori invading Tori's territory) with the cast returning to the place where they were summoned to the alternate universe. Almost immediately, they realized something was up. Tori's extra-dimensional demonic minions (a side-effect of being an avatar of a god) arrived, sensing unusual energies radiating from their deity. Unbeknownst to the party, these energies were coming from the alternate Tori who was host to the War energies while the real Tori was gone.
Having spent almost a full day in the other world, the cast was suffering from a form of extra-dimensional jet lag. Naturally, they wanted to get some rest. Rather than heading all the way to their college dorm, Tori opted to go to her mother's house, which was closer. I couldn't believe my luck as that provided me with a perfect way to close the teaser. Tori arrived at her mom's house to find her hair standing up in the presence of something supernatural and powerful, something that was talking to her mother. That powerful something turned out to be the alternate Tori, who was already bonding with Tori's mom.
For the remainder of the session, Tori Two was constantly muscling into our Tori's life. She convinced her mother to rehire a serving staff, she cozied up to Tori's old clique, and she even called her estranged father (who was quite close to Tori Two in her own world). Naturally, this drove the primary Tori crazy with jealousy. All the while, other characters began to notice side-effects. Conflicts were intensifying around the world and magical energies were transferring between the two extra-dimensional soul-sisters.
The final straw was calling Wolfram & Hart. They helped stoke Tori Two's natural ambition (unmoderated by real friends back in her own world). W&H saw an opportunity to seriously disrupt the activities of the Slayer by convincing Tori Two to remain in this world. Naturally, this led to a big throw-down in the end, when the raging emotion of war-god energies caused Tori Two to lash out with barely controlled power. The primary cast realized that as an avatar of the god of war, Tori had to forcefully take her power back from her soul-sister. Exerting all her will, she was able to do just that. And in the end, Tori Two was returned to her own world with a new found respect for the life choices of her soul sister.